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The Astros notched the first 10-run inning of the season in the sixth inning tonight, so it’s not quite accurate to say that tonight was the Most White Sox Loss of the year, at least in the sense that it’s representative of so many defeats.
It’s more fair to say that tonight had the most White Sox things going wrong, and they all coalesced to deliver a loss that would’ve been a fitting ALDS Game 5, if that series was cursed enough to be a best-of-seven.
Lucas Giolito getting rough up early and late: Here were Giolito’s numbers each time through the order entering tonight starts:
- First PA: .291/.378/.544
- Second PA: .192/.264/.295
- Third PA: .370/.392/.761
And here’s how he fared each time through:
- First PA: 3-for-8, 2 HR, 1 BB, 1 K
- Second PA: 1-for-8, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 GDP
- Third PA: 3-for-5, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 1 K
These splits also align with a nosedive around the 75-pitch mark, and that’s when Yordan Alvarez singled home Alex Bregman as the second of five consecutive batters to reach opening the sixth inning, which were the last five batters Giolito faced. All of them came around to score, and that only comprised half the damage.
Tony La Russa pulling Giolito batters too late: Giolito posted zeroes in the third, fourth and fifth innings, so it’s understandable that the White Sox didn’t have anybody warming opening the sixth. But it took a few batters before the bullpen started stirring, and even though a review of a pitch that was showed to be an HBP bought the White Sox time to catch up, Giolito still stayed in for one more batter, giving up a single.
It just didn’t matter because Matt Foster gave up a grand slam, the first of three Houston homers during the inning. Alvarez took him deep after Alex Bregman’s second walk of the inning, and then Kyle Tucker greeted Tanner Banks with a back-to-back shot.
The offense short-circuiting…: After Giolito fell behind 3-0 after two, the White Sox were able to tie it up in the third thanks to some lefty-mashing. Seby Zavala opened the inning with a double down the line, Danny Mendick singled him to third, and AJ Pollock pounded the first pitch he saw into the Houston bullpen behind the wall in right center, knotting the game at 3. And that was it.
… in part because of a bad send: The White Sox already had one baserunning mistake in the fourth inning when Josh Harrison misread Leury García’s grounder to the left side. Harrison made up for it by surviving a rundown long enough for García to reach second, so at least he ensured the Sox lost no ground.
Seby Zavala followed with a liner to left, and with two outs, Joe McEwing’s auto-send took over. He waved home García as soon as the ball cleared the shortstop, even though Zavala hit it 98 mph, and every left fielder at Minute Maid Park plays shallow due to the Crawford Boxes. Alvarez fielded the ball cleanly, fired a ball 93 mph on the fly, and García was doomed by 20 feet.
The White Sox now have the league lead in runners lost at home with 11, and while a 50-50 call is always defensible with two outs, McEwing has had a number of no-chance sends as well. This one hurt, especially since Mendick and Pollock had quality at-bats against Valdez the inning before.
Somebody got hurt: This time it was Yoán Moncada, who came up hobbling after a routine groundout to short in the second inning. He stayed in the game through the second, but Harrison replaced him afterward. The forecast is unclear.
*Banks was at least able to finish the seventh and eighth by himself, which spared the rest of the bullpen.
*Zavala went 2-for-3, with both hits against a lefty. He destroyed southpaws at Charlotte, so this might be the way he carries himself on the right 26-man roster.
*Andrew Vaughn was charged with an error when his attempt to get Bregman at third bounced past Harrison at third and into the dugout, which gave Bregman the final 90 feet. It was an OK throw, but Harrison stayed on the bag as Bregman came in hoping for a play, and couldn’t field the hop as Bregman knocked him over.
*Giolito’s ERA ballooned to 4.78.